In early 2000, then-Gov. George W. Bush told Roger Simon, then with U.S. News & World Report, that he was befuddled by how soft the media was on Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
"I don’t think there is any plot; I hope there isn’t," Bush said. "But it’s an amazing phenomenon, I’ll tell you that. It’s like the flap over the foreign-leader deal. A guy gets up and quizzes me — it’s my fault for trying to answer — but John McCain says something about the ‘ambassador to Czechoslovakia.’ Well, I know there is no Czechoslovakia (there’s a Czech Republic and a Slovakia), but yet it didn’t make the nightly national news. I’m not going to gripe about it, but the media question is starting to pop up."
Apparently that Czechoslovakia lesson never took, because McCain keeps making that mistake, eight years later.
"I was concerned about a couple of steps that the Russian government took in the last several days," McCain said this week. "One was reducing the energy supplies to Czechoslovakia. Apparently that is in reaction to the Czech’s agreement with us concerning missile defense, and again some of the Russian now announcement they are now retargeting new targets, something they abandoned at the end of the Cold War, is also a concern."
Well, I’d be concerned too!
Especially since I was under the impression that on January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic and Slovakia — two separate countries.
Greg Sargent points out that this is not an isolated incident, that earlier this year McCain told Don Imus he’d "work closely with Czechoslovakia and Poland" (Poland still exists!) on the European Missile Defense System, and during a October 2007 Republican debate sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations McCain said he’d "make sure that we have a missile defense system in place in Czechoslovakia and Poland, and I don’t care what (Vladimir Putin’s) objections are to it."
The issue is bubbling up quite a bit on liberal blogs with the argument that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, (as with Bush before him) could never get away with such an error. The idea being that McCain claims great foreign policy experience and knowledge, so why does he keep urging action on a missile shield for a country that hasn’t existed since George H.W. Bush was president?
Herein we offer a helpful list of other countries that no longer exist (Hey, Brooke, — clip and save):
Kingdom of Kongo
Portuguese West Africa
French West Africa
…I’d also avoid mentioning Pangaea.